Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Spiritual Person

“The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?'  But we have the mind of Christ.”          - 1 Corinthians 2:15-16

The spiritual person is not the one in position or holding an office in a church, nor a perfect believer without sin - for if that would be the case, then there will be no ‘spiritual person’ here on earth because his place would be in heaven.  The spiritual person is someone who was born of the Spirit (John 3), his being regenerated through the gospel of Christ and he lives the truth and walks in faith.

He judges all things, not that he has knowledge of all things in nature but things that are spiritual. He discerns the foolishness of this world, the truth from error, the voice of God from the voice of strangers. He knows when the gospel is preached and when it is distorted.  He never compromises the truth with unwarranted claims.

The greatest mystery that the world cannot understand is the greatness of the divine salvation that Christ provided for many. Thus the verse,

"What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, 
nor the heart of man imagined, 
what God has prepared for those who love him" 
1 Corinthian 2:9

The world proves the Scripture right when it says, "the message of the cross is foolishness to them" (1 Corinthians 1:18).  Through the suffering of Christ and the ransom He paid for our sins, we were freed from the slavery of darkness and has come to His light where we see everything in His love and mercy and grace.

He has the mind of Christ… for the Word which is Christ and the Spirit who illuminates the Word are in him.  He is humbled by the truth so does not fear to speak out the truth... for the sake of love and for the glory of God.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Paul's Ambition

“And thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” Romans 15:20-21.

If we claim to follow Christ, then Paul's ambition should be ours as well. The root of the great commission in Matthew 28 is to become witnesses of Christ. To be a witness of Christ is to preach His gospel through the power of the Spirit and to live it as well. 

The word 'ambition' suits well for this difficult task (actually 'impossible' suits best but since God is with us, that'll do 😊). Difficult is a word that puts emphasis on great efforts, engagement and passion unto something. Paul and the rest of the disciples managed to spread the Word throughout the world even with difficulty! Through the help of the Spirit, Paul knew what to do in order to accomplish this goal. 

1. Paul worked on it. I mean really worked on it. In his letter to the Romans, he says “This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, I hope to see you…” (Romans 15:22-24a).  Paul was longing to visit the brothers in Rome but the ministry of the gospel of Christ hindered him.  This was not the kind of hindrance that forced him to stay in Corinth, rather Paul set it to himself, a thing to be done before doing any other.  He was focused on the task and the task of completing it. He made efforts in reaching out to people, not only to those who were within his reach, but also to those he was able to go to. He saturated the territory where God had put him with the good news.  I say it was laborious but the Spirit was there to aid and strengthen Him, just as He is now with us.

Where did God put you now? Are you making every effort to reach out for those who don't know Christ yet?

2. Paul asked to be prayed for.  
“I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers…” these were written by Paul to Romans (15:30-31a), an appointed apostle of Christ. Regardless of our calling in Christ, we need the prayers of other believers too.  Paul is specific that the church should strive together in prayer for this command that God had given us all. We must pray for each other to be brought to opportunities to declare Christ and declare it with the power of God.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

What do you really mean, Paul?

"Therefore," Paul concludes with almost certainty in Romans 15:7, "welcome one another as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God."  I believe this goes beyond welcoming our brethren in a church fellowship. It is rather an acceptance with a deep understanding of each other's sin-stained flesh and a full recognition that every one of us is at the mercy of our Lord. 

What does Paul really mean when he said that we must welcome one another as Christ welcomed each one of us? Let us look back and see how were we accepted by Christ in His family. 

1. Christ rejoices as we come to Him.  At times, we require a lot of effort in joyously accepting our new family in Christ. Perhaps because of a past happened between you and your brethren, racial discrimination, unsettled issues, impressions and expectations. We must remember how God greatly values them in Luke 15:3-7 parable, where 99 others were left for one. It shows how Christ was 'infinitely pleased', as Matthew Henry puts it, in the repentance and conversion of great sinners. Matthew 10:40 also says "He who receives you, receives Me, and he who receives Me receives who sent me."

2. Christ looks at us impartially.  Jews or Gentiles, the Lord did not show partiality among His chosen people (Romans 2:11). His promise is unequivocal. He welcomes those who fear Him and do what is right from every nation. James clearly spotted what every believer's attitude should be: 

"My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.  For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "You sit here in a good place," while you say to the poor man, "You stand over there," or, "Sit down at my feet," have you no then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?  If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well.  But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors." James 2:1-4, 8-9.

3. Christ redeemed us to the glory of God. Everything Jesus does is to His glory. His pleasure in saving us is to glorify Himself (Eph. 1:5-6 and Phil. 2:9-11). There is coherence on Paul's instruction to imitate Him as He imitates Christ. This is our chief end - to glorify God in every thing we do. "We receive each other in love and without judgment or condescension  we do, as He did, to the glory of God"  (J. MacArthur). 

In wretched state, Christ welcomed us in His family. He demonstrated His love and mercy on the cross while we were still sinners. He brought light into our darkness and life in our death. We were accepted to glorify His name and in Him we will be glorified. God endured all our griefs and sorrows in his humanity to Calvary. He is patient in our weaknesses, even encourages us and will continue to do so until He comes again. May we always remember God's graciousness to us whenever we look at our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Source: John MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Romans 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Irony of Parenting

Image result for father sons

"Mommy, obey me!" my five-year old daughter then demanded. I laughed it off and explained to her what's wrong with that. Obviously, she did not understand that obedience varies in application.

At that time, I was reading the book of Genesis. God had plainly revealed in the earlier chapters of this book that He is our Father and we are His children, which along with that concept injected a few important principles of parenting.  He, being our Father, imposes obedience to His children which we, in turn, are expected to comply.   Since our heavenly Father is God, and God as He is, a perfect being, all righteous, just and full of wisdom, always proved the beauty of being obedient to Him.

When I came to Genesis 9, I discovered another perspective in parenting.  This chapter enumerated how Noah and his family lived after the flood.  God gave them the same command to multiply and fill the earth as to Adam and Eve. Verse 20 showed that Noah became occupied in increasing the produce of the land. He [Noah] began to be a man of the soil, and [he] planted a vineyard. Until he was fully drawn into it and finally sinned (v. 21).

From that verse until the end of this chapter, I remembered the statement of my daughter, and realized that parenting, in most cases, is wrapped with irony like that.

1. The Irony of Teaching Obedience

Noah was a parent of three sons. I am convinced that it was clear with him that he was to teach his children that obedience was a good trait and must be applied.  

But on one fateful day, Noah drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent (v. 21). He disobeyed God by giving in to his intemperance and abusing God's gifts.

It is logical to say that when you teach something, you are expected to be better than who you are teaching. But in the stance of obedience, Noah's story proved something else.  The hard truth presses on:  Parents struggle in obedience as much as their children do. So what shall we do? The task of teaching obedience to children was commissioned to us, parents. We must be reputed as obedient. We must persevere in genuine efforts to obey God for our sake and the sake of our children.  

But outward obedience is cheap.  Let us desire for the real thing - inward submission that will inevitably express outwardly. The Bible tells us to keep watch of our lives so that we are prepared to meet our Lord anytime. It is our destiny to encounter different temptations and trials not just as a parent but as a child of God. To lose heart is not an option but to be expectant in the Lord is an enduring confidence that we are helped.  Habakkuk 2:1 tells it with great exact,
"I will stand on my guard post 
And station myself on the rampart; 
And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, 
And how I may reply when I am reproved." 

Noah disobeyed God and shame was brought upon him through his son Ham. This story was told not for him to be eternally humiliated but to remind us that Noah was a perfect man yet not without sin.  Our nature opposes the Spirit, but as we come nearer to God, by His grace our calling as parents will be fulfilled.

2. The Irony of Scorning a Disgraceful

We often say, "Respect must be earned, not demanded".  If it is fitting to respect someone who is respectable in his ways and words, then it is just right not to revere anyone who does not deserve it! 

Or is it?

Let us look at how Ham, the son of Noah, reacted on probably his father's most shameful act."Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside" (v. 21)He intentionally went in to his father's tent to see him disgraced.  He delighted on the sin of Noah and intended in his heart of disgracing his father publicly (... scornfully spoke about his father to his two brothers outside.). He wanted everyone to see that his father sinned and that he is deserving to be shamed.

I have heard hundreds of stories of children hating their parents for being "bad parents".  Sons and daughters crush their parents with insults and rejection, thinking they are not obliged to respect such parents. In fact, they feel it is their duty to embarrass and expose them for what they have done.
Does God favor that? Verse 25 answers, "Cursed be Canaan (son of Ham); a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers." Noah cursed Ham and his entire generation for scorning his disgrace. Though this incident is within the divine appointment of the Lord, we cannot disregard that Noah's punishment to his son was also vindicated.

Shem and Japheth had a different take on the situation. It was settled in their hearts to honor their father despite him. For that, they and their generations were blessed (v. 26-27)
"Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both of their shoulders, and walked backward, and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father's nakedness... " (v. 23)

Our fallibility will surely fail our children many a time. So we must clearly teach them that their obedience is not really to us nor it is dependent on who we are, but their obedience is to God  -- because ultimately, He is our Father.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Don't Thank the Universe

We climb the highest mountain we can and stand in awe of creation.  We dive deep in the waters and wonderfully lust on it.  Sometimes even the simplest drops of rain from our window give warm jitters in our senses.

The sun. Its power is unstoppable.  As soon as it sets, no one and nothing can conceal its tremendous heat and light.  It reaches throughout and from end to end.  We may try to hide in a shade yet the sun remains where it is.  Its rays will always seep through.

We unashamedly call nature "mother" as if it cradles all living things.  We thank the universe (ours or whichever universe) for all the good that come our way when actually it has nothing to do with it.  All of universe and the life it encompasses; the nature's form and itself are merely all part of God's grand design.  Clearly, as some assumed or were misled, the universe and God are not the same. Universe is a creation, same with nature.  God is the Creator.

"The heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1).  Nature will always amaze us of its beauty and its gripping ways because someone Supreme is behind it.  We are struck of the creation's magnificence, how much more the glory of the Creator! We can only suppress as much of this truth as the sun is suppressed of its light-- the unchanging invisible power of God clearly seen in all its creation will always seep through. 

To deny that there is God takes a lot of imagination.  Creation is too beautiful to be accidental.

image credit to

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

DON'T BE A FELIX! Reasons Why People Refuse the True Gospel of Jesus Christ.

"And as [Paul] reasoned of righteousness, temperance and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee" Acts 24:25 
With social networks, one can hardly miss anything.  I can definitely say that those who are active on Facebook and/or Twitter are the most updated ones. We know about almost everything through the news feed of our Facebook - even the rage of your neighbor with her husband.  And though we cannot always filter what we see on our screens, we can ignore some posts and give weight on some which we may feel is important.

How many times have you encountered the Gospel of Jesus Christ on your wall posts? How many times have you thought about it? Have you considered reading it closely and giving weight on it? Now that you're reading this, are you considering knowing the real gospel at all?

When Paul was sent to Felix, the governor of Caesarea, to face the charges of the chief priests and Jews, he boldly confessed and testified the lordship of Jesus Christ in his life... how God worked in his life and how he was changed.  Everyone listened intently; whether to bring judgment or witness the truth, they came to know about the Lord.  Felix's interest to please his Jewish wife spark curiosity in him to hear more from Paul.  And so he sent for Paul and heard him speak about his faith in Christ Jesus.  But when Paul talked about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, he was alarmed. Preposterously, he was alarmed yet sent Paul away!

Matthew Henry captured it so well when he commented on this verse, "Sinners often start up like a man roused from his sleep by a loud noise, but soon sink again into their usual drowsiness." Many a time, God sends warning to us, convicting us of our shameful ways, opening his arms to us for repentance. Yet just like Felix, many put the thought at the back seat of their minds and drive away, thinking, "there will be a more convenient time to think about those things, but just not this time". I wonder, what lingers someone not to take hold of his eternal destiny? Surprisingly, there are numerous "reasons" that I came across. I have enumerated some of the common ones to which I'm also responding with biblical verses to expose its unsubstantiated claims.

1. "I'm basically a good person." 

"God is good, and he won't punish me because basically, I'm good.
I do not murder.
I give alms to the poor.
And more importantly, I am not hurting anyone."

Must the accused determine his fate or the judge to give the sentence? They evaluate themselves with their standards and assume they have passed God's judgment. The Bible says,  "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) and "-for there is no one who does not sin-" (2 Chronicles 6:36).  God's judgement to sin is death ("for the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23a). Original sin (sinful nature) in itself is enough to condemn the whole human race, more so the sin we commit in our lifetime.

What is amusing though, everyone who claims to be good also admits not being able to perfectly achieve what God requires them to do.  Some even profess to be 'Christians'. But their idea of Jesus is not as a Messiah but a filler for their personal merit as payment for their ransom. So the concept of salvation becomes now, our Lord Jesus Christ partly contributing to our salvation instead of him entirely redeeming us from our sins.

What can I say? That is overboard blasphemous and heretical.

2. "What matters is I believe in God." 

"You believe that God is one; you do well.  Even the demons believe-- and shudder!" James 2:19. Unbelievers tend to claim that they believe in God... that believing is enough piety to save them from the fires of hell.

Believing is now then equated to faith, which is wrong. For believing and having faith [in God] are not one and the same in the definition that this claim pertains to. Believing in this manner of speaking simply accepts that God exists. Faith, on the other hand, is a conviction that produces action and confidence. James [chapter 2] explained two kinds of faith:

False Faith (2:14-20) - A person who claims to believe and yet is barren with the fruits of salvation was compared to a demon who also believes in God (and shudders in fear!). A false believer declares their belief in God yet has no interest or whatsoever to know God and be involved in His kingdom. Obviously, the person who closes his heart from the conviction he received and settled in saying 'believing God is all that matters', falls into this category.

Saving Faith - The faith that saves is the faith that works, not that one's works is essential to salvation but is the proof of one's salvation.  The person with this faith repents when convicted of his sin and produces a fruit which is a changed life in Christ. It perseveres to know God and His will, submits to His lordship, and trusts in the finished work of Christ for his salvation

3. "I'm happy with my faith."

I will put this in one category with a couple other statements: "We are loved in our church." and "I was born with this faith, I will die with it."

Being happy in this context, obviously, is based on a spur of a moment feeling. That passing happiness that makes someone feel good. The problem with this is, we cannot trust our feelings alone. Jeremiah 17:9 says "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure...", so trusting our "instincts" and "feelings" are dangerous. It is a fact that true worship of God leads to joy, peace and security in the hearts of men, but this kind of worship is founded in the knowledge of God.  It does not depend on people's treatment to someone or on the fleeting feeling you experience in the church. These experiences are all self-satisfying and do not progress them to excite in knowing God through His Word.

I have initially heard the 'living and dying' principle from my parents when I was sharing the gospel to them for the first time. Those people who stand on this principle seem to be sure of what they believe in.  Unfortunately, when asked about their theology, they will loftily say that they are content of their innocence like a child about their faith. They have probably heard Matthew 18:3 verse, "and truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.", and misinterpreted it.  This verse does not mean that God wants us to be ignorant and walk blindly in faith, rather it tells us to be like a little child who trusts his Father on everything. So should our trust be to our Father in heaven.

God wants us to be enlightened through His Word (Matthew 6:22), to know His Word (Matthew 22:29), and to grow in the grace and knowledge of Him (2 Peter 3:18).

4. "I'm not ready yet." 

This statement is probably the closest that is of Felix's, and which I consider the most boastful and foolish of all.  The hardened heart that despite knowing the truth chooses to live in sin and refuses to give up its pleasures.  It runs after the riches of this world and values power over an honourable reputation.  The person who thinks his life is his and that his tomorrow is certain.  

James 4:13-14b is a ready reminder for them, "Today or tomorrow, we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and make a profit.  You do not even know what will happen tomorrow!"

Overall, the misery is all the same. What goes to one, mirrors the other. Man's depravity escapes no one. Light has come to the world but people loved darkness rather than light because their works were evil (John 3:19).  It is not enough that you go to church every week. It is not enough that you read your Bible once in a while. It is not just about praying or having fellowship with others.  None of it can take away the filthiness of our sinful nature. We are all wretched until we hold fast to the pure doctrine of the Gospel of Christ through which we can only be truly united with our God. (Calvin)

Now this is the TRUE GOSPEL: 
Let's examine Romans 3:19-26

No one is declared righteous before God by observing the law. (verses 19-21)
There is a righteousness from God that is apart from law. (verse 21)
The righteousness from God is received through faith in Jesus Christ. (verse 22)
This righteousness is available to everyone on the same basis, because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (verses 22-23)
All who put their faith in Jesus Christ are justified freely by God's grace. (verse 24)
This justification is through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (verse 24)
God presented [Jesus] as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in His blood. (verse 25)
Reference: The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges

Now here's Paul Washer to explain it further. Spare 12 minutes of your time and consider your eternity. May the Lord open the eyes of your heart.

So "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart..." (Hebrews 3:15), lest you be like Felix whose convenient time never came.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Life is Terrifying; Or is it?

Sorrows, failures and uncertainties follow our earthly life.  It may stay for a time, a year, or all your days.  So yes- when we come to think of it, life can be terrifying.

Fear becomes our great enemy.  It may defeat us by default, without a fight.  But fear may also bring out that indomitable spirit in us.  As one preacher puts it, you would not need courage without fear.  Courage comes with fear.

But what is courage, really?  Is it an urge to do something dangerous or extreme? Or a prevailing moment of your invincible self?

Folks often depict courage as a grip in one's heart that convinces someone to act for a cause.  I think that goes the same in our Christian walk.  But what is the cause that grip our hearts? Psalm 60:12 says,

"With God, we will do valiantly,
it is He who will tread down our foes."

In this Psalm, David is resolved on the manner that he and the Israelites will fight.  They will not go to battle petrified, anxious or confused.  They will fight bravely as if they have already won.  David's courage is not a sudden feeling or an impulsive drive.  He meditated the cause of his courage.  It is not a mind conditioning of believing in himself, but it is from God whom he lay all his hope.

His courage is founded in a certain hope- his hope in his God, on who He is and what He can do.

We encounter difficult times, and God allows these things to happen for the purpose of His glory.  We may feel as though God is conspiring with our misfortunes (a revealing thought of a downcast soul).  Many may be puzzled, but it is really to our advantage that God is involved even in our troubles and sufferings.  Surely, He permits these things not to harm us.  He breaks us so we can see how weak our defenses are, if left on our own.  He makes us witness to the person we really are through our circumstances.  He strips our pride so we can truly learn how to depend on Him.  And when we finally figured it out, our hope in temporal existence fades, and a living hope irresistibly arise in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Courage is found where you put your hope into.
God is the cause of my and my salvation in this terrifying life.
And for that, I am not terrified at all.

Reading: Psalm 60

The Spiritual Person

“The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. ‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as ...